- Group Accuses Akpabio of Kidnapping IYC President, Igbifa
- DSS Reacts
The abduction of its National President in Port Harcourt on Tuesday notwithstanding, the Ijaw Youth Council, (IYC) made good its threat to embark on peaceful protest following the failure of the federal government failure to inaugurate the substantive board of the NDDC after the one month ultimatum the group gave the government on April 25, 2021 elapsed.
This is just as the National President of the group, Comrade Peter Timothy Igbifa was reportedly kidnapped by unknown gunmen on Tuesday while on his way to the Port Harcourt Airport for a flight to Abuja to honour an emergency meeting summoned by the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milliand Dixon Dikio (rtd).
The New Diplomat learnt that as early as 7am this morning, hundreds of youths mobilized to block the East-West Road at Ibiama-Yenogoa junction causing a gridlock that paralyzed the movement of motorists along the road for several hours.
Our source also disclosed that entrances to the Bayelsa State and Delta State offices of the NDDC were also barricaded by placards flaunting youths with different inscriptions including “We seek Justice in NDDC,Now!”, “FG should appoint substantive board in NDDC now” and “IOCs must not remit N1.6billion dollars to NDDC Now!”, amongst others.
However, rising from an emergency meeting of the IYC in Yenagoa, the IYC in a statement issued and signed by Deputy President, Saviour Olali, National Spokesman, Ebilade Ekerefe, National Treasurer, Timilaemi Ebifoubo and others, expressed shock at the abduction of its National President, stating that the action was provocative just as they accused the federal government of sponsoring the action. The group called the President Buhari-led government to release Comrade Peter Igbifa unconditionally.
The statement read in part: “Though the abduction of the IYC President, Deacon Timothy Igbifa, came to us as a shock and provocative, we have since discovered that the Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, sponsored and executed the abduction.
“First, he was invited, along with other National Executive members, to Abuja for a robust engagement meeting with the Interim Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dixion Dikio (rtd). Then, he was abducted by men armed with standard “IWI Tavor rifles” or “the Uzi sub-machine gun”.
“Despite our shock, the National Executive of the IYC wants to express solidarity with the pockets of protest in some parts of the region in line with the expiration of the 30 days ultimatum handed the Federal Government, and the provocative abduction of the President, Deacon Igbifa.
“While in support and solidarity with genuine protest by Ijaw Youths in most parts of the region, they should not allow hoodlums or criminal elements serially used to thwart similar protest in Lagos and Kaduna to infiltrate their midst and hijack the protests”.
“The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) also condemned, in strongest terms, the unwarranted abduction of the President, Deacon Igbifa and call on the Federal Government to release him unconditionally. Due to the sudden abduction, the Ijaw Youths Council leadership has abruptly terminated the ongoing engagement between the IYC and the Interim Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. We are returning back to the region to have robust engagement with key stakeholders including the Clans, Zones and chapters on the strategy and rule of engagement forthwith”.
“This robust engagement will metamorphose into a National Convention slated for Sunday 30th of May, 2019 where a clear cut strategy will be initiated in line with the planned Mass Action. As a Council, we will not betray the trust reposed in us as National Leaders of the IYC.
“The National Leaders of the Council is resolute that despite the expiration of the 30 days ultimatum handed President Muhammadu Buhari at midnight on Tuesday, the Ijaw Youths will not be cowed from insisting that a substantive board of NDDC be immediately constituted.”
“While we put the various security agencies in the country on red alert in order to secure the unconditional release of the President of Council, Deacon Timothy Igbifa, the Ijaw Youths worldwide should remain calm, and not allow emotions and divisive elements to drag then back from achieving our goal of ensuring peace, equity and fair development for the region”.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) has accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Akwa, of being responsible for the abduction of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) National President, Peter Igbifa.
In a statement issued by Emma Keneware, National Secretary of IPDI, the group called on Igbifa’s abductors to release him within 24 hours to avoid collateral damage, adding that the country’s oil and gas sector may be at risk.
The group noted that it has been vindicated since the youths have been accusing the NDDC of financial misappropriation, warning that oil operations may be shutdown in the Niger Delta if the IYC National President is not released unconditionally within 24 hours.
The New Diplomat learnt that the kidnapped IYC national president had served the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio a notice of the impending protest over his failure to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Igbifa was reported to have been abducted on Port Harcourt Airport Road, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital barely 24 hours to the expiration of the ultimatum.
Reacting, the Department of State Services (DSS) denied involvement in the alleged abduction. The spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, declared that the department was not in any way involved.
“The DSS has nothing to do with the alleged arrest or whisking away of IYC President, Comrade Peter Timothy Igbifa by suspected masked men”, he told PRNigeria.
Efforts by this medium to get the reaction of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs over the allegation, has so far proved abortive.